A recent city audit of the Metro Health labs found the labs are handling their scientific functions well but the financial functions need some work.

Metro Health labs are used to perform a variety of testing. STD clinics test for syphilis, HIV, chlamydia and gonorrhea. Rabies testing is done for counties across South Texas. The chest clinic tests for tuberculosis and milk and dairy products and water are tested for bacteria.

A recent audit of labs found the science was good, but the math was not.

Specifically, auditors noted that cash-handling procedures were not in compliance with guidelines.

It also noted that billing for Medicaid and Medicare was not performed accurately.

In a four-month period, auditors noted the lab provided $11,480 worth of services yet billed Medicaid and Medicare only $3,017 and received only $2,063.

The audit also noted problems by the labs in keeping track of the supplies and testing kits used in laboratory functions.

Auditors noted Metro health was inaccurately performing its inventory.

Metro Health Dir. Dr. Thomas Schlenker says the results of the audit were welcomed and that changes were made quickly to address the shortcomings in the accounting procedures.

"I thought the audit was fair,” Schlenker said. “And it was helpful to us, actually."

He said two people now count and reconcile the cash drawer at the end of the day. And that delays in billing Medicaid and Medicare and disputing rejections by those organizations have been addressed.

"Billing for medical care is a pretty involved process these days," Schlenker said.

He said it is important for a lab that really serves all of South Texas to be right financially as well as scientifically.

The lab also broke purchasing rules by placing orders in excess of $3,000 with a single vendor. The city council will now be asked to approve those purchases.

To see the full audit list, click here (PDF).

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